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Price Tag for Airstrikes Against Islamic State Hits $5.5B

airwar

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. has won battles, destroyed targets, and saved towns from ISIS, but we might not be winning a war that carries with it a massive price tag.

The air war against the Islamic State group has cost the American taxpayer $5.5 billion, roughly $11.2 million per day. This is a $2 million increase since June, this according to the latest Defense Department data.

The Air Force accounts for $3.75 billion of that cost, totaling roughly $7.7 million/day since the U.S. began launching airstrikes in August, 2014.

In 2015, the Air Force conducted 21,000 sorties over Iraq and Syria, 9,000 of which included at least one weapons release. For the first time, in the last two months of 2015, the Air Force surpassed over 3,100 dropped bombs during Operation Inherent Resolve.

Recently, the U.S.-led coalition blew up a warehouse in Iraq where the Islamic State held millions of dollars in cash, a defense official confirmed.

In November, Inherent Resolve spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said that munitions from A-10s and C-130s destroyed 116 tanker trucks in what the Defense Department has called Operation Tidal Wave II — a push to limit the Islamic State’s oil revenue.

U.S. allies have stepped up their targeting of the militant group following the November 13th terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

According to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the United States will convene a meeting next month of defense ministers from 27 countries participating in the fight against the Islamic State. The meeting in Brussels will focus on how each member of the coalition could contribute more to defeating the extremist group, assist with the reconstruction of cities that were held by the Islamic State, and on countering the group’s propaganda.

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USS Harry S. Truman Deployed in Fight Against ISIS

truman

By Debbie Gregory.

The Norfolk-based Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, currently in the Arabian Gulf, is launching airstrikes against Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terrorists, according to the Navy.

The strike group includes guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio and guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley, USS Gravely and USS Gonzalez.

The carrier and its crew of approximately 6,000 sailors left Naval Station Norfolk November 16th, on what’s expected to be a seven-month deployment, filling a U.S. carrier absence in the Middle East.

The Truman joins the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier FS Charles De Gaulle for combined combat operations in Iraq and Syria, the Navy said. France has been an active member of the U.S.-led coalition force since ISIS claimed credit for the attacks in its capital city November 16th.

Originally, the Truman was set to deploy in 2016, but the Navy had it switch deployments with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike), which needed additional time in the shipyard. Ike had a record-setting, 23-month yard period after back-to-back deployments from June 2012 to December 2012, and from February 2013 to July 2013, causing more maintenance than expected.

The Truman provides a wide range of flexible mission capabilities, including maritime security operations, expeditionary power projection, forward naval presence, crisis response, sea control, deterrence, counter-terrorism, information operations and security cooperation. The ship’s embarked air wing is capable of projecting tactical air power over the sea and inland, as well as providing sea based air, surface and subsurface defense capabilities.

The ship’s crew keeps up a lively presence on social media, posting pictures on their Facebook page to keep loved ones up to date with their activities. While it must have been difficult to have them gone for the holidays, there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 holiday pictures featuring hundreds of crew members in the “Happy Holidays” photo album.

“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. ”
-President Harry S. Truman

Give ‘Em Hell!

Were ISIS Intelligence Reports Altered?

obamaonisis

By Debbie Gregory.

The Pentagon is investigating whether crucial ISIS intelligence reports were manipulated to reflect a more optimistic assessment of the American military campaign against the Islamic State.

President Obama said that he has told top military officials to “get to the bottom” of reports that intelligence assessments have been altered to give a rosier assessment of progress in turning back the Islamic State. He said that altering reports would be contrary to his wishes.

“One of the things I insisted on the day I walked into the Oval Office was that I don’t want intelligence shaded by politics. I don’t want it shaded by a desire to tell a feel-good story,” he said.

Obama said he didn’t know what that inspector general’s investigation would find regarding the ISIS intelligence reports. But he appeared to be more concerned about the issue than he’s been in previous responses, saying he’s asked Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, to investigate.

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he had not seen any evidence of altered ISIS intelligence reports during his tenure at the Pentagon, from early 2013 to February of this year.

Mr. Obama said he would not relent in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. He repeatedly described the group’s members as little more than thugs with guns who have little or no ability to “strike a mortal blow” against the United States or France.

Obama pledged to “take back their land” and “cut off their financing” and “hunt down their leadership” with what he called an intensifying strategy on all fronts.

He reiterated that Americans must not change the way they treat other people or demand unreasonable legal changes because they are fearful of another attack. He noted that Times Square in New York — not so far from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks — is filled with people.

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Fight with ISIS Could Take 20 Years: Military Connection

ray

By Debbie Gregory.

In a recent press conference, Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, projected that the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) will take much longer to resolve than  the White House has been publicizing.

“In my mind, ISIS is a ten to twenty year problem, it’s not a two years problem,” he told reporters. “Now, I don’t know what level it will be a problem, but it’s a long term problem.”

Odierno went on to explain that the movement is growing right now, and that it will take longer than originally thought. Previous reports from the White House estimated three to five years to eradicate ISIS. The militant group appears to be more extensive and has rooted in a greater geographic region.

The discussion arose from reporters inquiring about budget cuts. Odierno was commenting that with the current budget, the Army was simply not going to be able to do the things they are expected to do.

“To defeat them, is not just a military issue. It is an economic issue. It is a diplomatic issue. It is an issue of moderate versus extremists and it is about also, potentially, having the capability to root them out of the places they now hold in Iraq and Syria,” Odierno went on to explain.

In another interview, the chief of staff further explained that when ISIS took control in Mosul, the administration did not rely on his years of experience in command to strategize the plan of defense. Odierno also speculated that an additional compromise was the Army budget cuts over the past four years, decreasing the budget by nearly 14 percent.

Odierno agreed with the White House that the fight against ISIS is best to be handled by local forces on the ground.

“Others should do this,” he said. “I believe the nations in the Middle East need to solve this problem. We should be helping them to solve this problem.”

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Fight with ISIS Could Take 20 Years: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: What the Fall of Ramadi Shows

RamadiBy Debbie Gregory.

The White House has officially acknowledged the fall of the city of Ramadi to the Islamic State. A statement from the Obama administration calls the loss of Iraq’s Anbar province capital a “setback.” The Pentagon concurred with the White House’s summation, as both bodies maintain that the current strategies being used against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL), will ultimately bring about the destruction of the terrorist group. Both the White House and the Pentagon urged patience to those who wanted a faster resolution to the Islamic State problem.

“Setbacks are regrettable but not uncommon in warfare,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. “Much effort will now be required to reclaim the city.”

While those currently in power in Washington are campaigning to stay the course with our strategies in Iraq, there are others, including some who previously held positions of authority in the capital, who believe we should alter our tactics against the Islamic State. Former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates has said on national television that, “We don’t really have a strategy at all. We’re basically playing this day by day.”

Gates was speaking of the administration’s attempts to drive a wedge between Iraq’s Sunni tribes and the Islamic State. The former defense secretary has warned that if the situation keeps unfolding the way it currently is, we could see Iraq go down the same path as Yugoslavia.

“Right now, it looks like we’re going to see a lot of trouble in the Middle East for a long time,” Gates said.

The fall of Ramadi has caused suffering for the city’s residents, as well as a delay in any push to retake Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq. Mosul has been  an Islamic State stronghold since June, 2014. The loss of the city revealed that U.S. airstrikes, while effective, are not decisive. It also revealed further weaknesses in the already weak Iraqi Army. The U.S. had previously hoped that Iraqi government forces would have been ready to march on Mosul by April or May, but those hopes are now lost.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarinesCoast Guard,Guard and ReserveVeterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Boardinformation on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: What the Fall of Ramadi Shows: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Iraq Reclaims 25% of Land with Help

Iraq mapBy Debbie Gregory.

After the rapid and massive gains made by the Islamic State in 2014, Iraqi forces have managed to retake approximately 25% of the territory from the terrorist group.

American airstrikes against Islamic State units and strongholds effectively weakened the terrorist insurgents’ positions, to the point where ground forces were able to gain back an area that represents 5,000 to 6,500 square miles in northern and central Iraq.

But despite these gains, Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, contends that his country requires even more international assistance in its fight against the Islamic State.

Since the U.S. began training Iraq’s military to take over the fight against the Islamic State, approximately 6,000 Iraqi soldier have completed the training. Officials at the Pentagon estimate that 20,000 to 25,000 soldiers will be needed to retake Mosul.

Until then, the ground forces that support the Iraqi government are made up of Shiite and Kurdish militias. Although not as thoroughly trained, these militias are armed, determined, and prepared to fight against the Islamic State. Many of the Shiite militias are backed by the Iranian government, who supply them with funding and weapons.

The intervention of Iran in the efforts against the Islamic State are a double edged sword. The militias, as well as the artillery and other support offered by the Iranian government, is proving effective. But U.S. officials aren’t so keen on the idea that the Iranians might be pushing the Islamic State away so that they can slide in with their influence, which have historically been anti-American.

The Iranians have been supplying their assistance to the Iraqi government, and have yet to ask for anything in return. So both the Iraqi government and the U.S. government are stuck choosing between the possibility of allowing a snake in their yard or looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Recent talks with Iraqi leaders and U.S. officials called for the removal of all “Shiite militias” to withdraw from the front lines in Sunni-populated Ramadi. The U.S. said that they would not increase airstrikes against the Islamic State until the Shiite militias were gone, citing that they caused unrest among the Sunni locals. This is a true and valid point. But the way that the terms were relayed implied that the U.S. specifically wanted the Iranian-backed militias withdrawn.

The terms that the U.S. ambassador presented to Iraqi leaders, and agreed upon, called for the Shiite militias to withdraw, or for the individual fighters to come under the command of the Iraqi military.

The U.S. has been extremely concerned with ridding Iraq of the Islamic State, but is not willing to do so at the cost of opening the door for Iran to take over Islamic State holdings.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Iraq Reclaims 25% of Land with Help: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: ISIS Shifting Its Resources Into Syria

US jet

By Debbie Gregory.

The Pentagon has confirmed that the Islamic State in Iraq is moving some of its resources to Syria in order to reinforce its holdings. Airstrikes against the terrorist group, also commonly referred to as ISIS or ISIL, are having the desired effect.

Coalition ground forces consisting of Iraq’s military and Shiite and Kurdish militias­ are being backed by airstrikes, as well as military advisors from the U.S., the UK, and a collection of other Western, Middle-Eastern, and African nations. The airstrikes are taking a heavy toll on Islamic State assets, clearing the way for the ground forces to push ahead.

In Syria, the U.S. and Canada are joined by several Middle-Eastern nations to provide airstrikes and military advisors to the Syrian Opposition and Syrian Kurdistan, as they join forces with the Syrian government to fight against the Islamic State. Much like the gains being made in Iraq, the Syrian forces are starting to have an impact against the Islamic State. The terrorist group is pulling back some of its weapons and fighters from Iraq in order to try reinforce the holdings in Syria that are no longer secure.

There have been more than 3,200 airstrikes conducted in both Iraq and Syria. According to the Pentagon’s Chief of Staff of the military task force against the Islamic State, Marine Corps Brigadier General Thomas Weidley, the combined airstrikes and ground operations are forcing the Islamic State to relocate its resources to the Syrian theater.

Officials at the Pentagon have said that the campaign against the Islamic State is unfolding as expected. They knew it would be a long, difficult, but necessary undertaking.  And while the Islamic State has not fully withdrawn into Syria, the coalition airstrikes are having an impact.

The U.S.-led coalition is nearing the completion of phase one of the campaign against the Islamic State, as stated by President Obama, to “degrade, dismantle and ultimately defeat” the terrorist group. Both the Islamic State’s forces and its territory has been degraded by coalition efforts.

Iraqi Security Forces have regained over 25 percent of territory from the Islamic State in Iraq. Once the coalition dismantles and defeats the Islamic State in Iraq, the focus can shift to Syria.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: ISIS Shifting Its Resources Into Syria: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: How “The Good” Can Act

The Good

By Joe Silva

Edmund Burke was an 18th Century Irish Statesman and member of British Parliament, who accurately predicted the American colonists’ determination to achieve liberty. He is often credited with the popular phrase, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

For more than two centuries, this foreign-born sentiment has been at the root of American ideals. It has prompted generations of “good” individuals to act when they saw evil gaining a foothold in their world. These words ring true to this day, and as we see evils taking root in our world, we are calling on the “good” to fight back.

We hear about the Islamic State, claiming land in Iraq and Syria, and gaining a foothold in the world. The Islamic State, commonly referred to as ISIS and ISIL, is an extremist terrorist organization responsible for the murder of tens of thousands, and the enslavement of thousands of women to be the wives of their soldiers. In response to the U.S. military’s airstrikes in support of the local regimes’ war against them, ISIS has taken to social media to declare war against all American service members. This includes calling for organized and lone-wolf attacks against military installations and service members.

It is important to understand that the successes that ISIS has found has a lot to do with the utilization of the internet and social media. Online recruitment videos have drawn young Islamic extremists, from all over the world, to their ranks, including individuals from within our own borders. But ISIS also uses cyber knowledge to mass-communicate their message of terror.

Back in January, groups associated with ISIS hacked U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and Youtube accounts, posting threats such as, “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS.”

On March 20th, ISIS posted the names, photos and personal information such as home addresses of 100 U.S. service members on the internet, calling for jihadist attacks against the individuals and their families.

It is remarkable that just days before the last threat was posted, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan released a statement warning how ISIS is a serious danger beyond the geographic regions from which they operate.

“Threats in the cyber realm are an urgent national security priority, as America has no equivalent to the two wide oceans that have helped safeguard our country’s physical, maritime and aviation domains for centuries,” Brennan said in the statement.

The CIA director acknowledged that government cyber accounts, as well as those of large corporations, are “under constant assault.” Brennan said that the CIA is working with its partners across the federal government to improve the nation’s cyber defense.

But this leads me back to the famous quote. The threat of the Islamic State does not simply exist on our nightly news programs; it is real and it is triumphing in our world. Our present situation is calling on all “good” individuals to take a stand against ISIS and any evil that is trying to gain a foothold in the world.

That doesn’t mean that all patriotic Americans should enlist in the military. It is not about being a hero. Instead, it is calling out to all “good” individuals to act as citizens of the world. Be vigilant, notice wrongdoing in your neighborhood, and report suspicious activity to the proper authorities.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: How “The Good” Can Act: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: Former Airman Facing Charges

Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh

By Debbie Gregory

Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was indicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, for allegedly trying to join the Islamic State terrorist group.

However, Pugh, 47, isn’t just a normal civilian. He served in the Air Force from 1986 to 1990 as an avionics instrument system specialist. His training included the installation and maintenance of aircraft engines, navigation and weapons systems. Around 1998, Pugh moved to San Antonio, Texas, and converted to Islam. Since then, he has become increasingly radical in his beliefs.

Pugh was detained by Turkish authorizes in January when he landed in Istanbul. He told authorities that he was a “pilot with the United States Special Forces” who was vacationing in Turkey, but Turkish authorities were suspicious of his final destination. He was put on a plane to Cairo, where he told Egyptian authorities that he went to Turkey in search of a job, adamant that he had no plans of going to Syria.

Not coincidentally, Pugh’s electronic devices, including his laptop, had been “purposely tampered with” to prevent anyone from accessing them. Pugh told authorities that he had a wife in Egypt.

Upon investigation of his laptop, the FBI found a letter apparently written to his Egyptian wife in which he claimed to be a mujahid. A mujahid is one who struggles for the sake of Allah and Islam. He stated, “ I am a sword against the oppressor and a shield for the oppressed. I will use the talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic States. There is [sic]only two possible outcomes for me. Victory or Martyr.”

The FBI also found around 180 jihadist videos on the laptop, including one that showed graphic murders committed by Islamic State, according to the indictment.

In 2001, one of Pugh’s co-workers told the FBI that Pugh “felt the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies overseas were justified and expressed anti-American sentiment.” Another associate told the FBI back in 2002 that Pugh expressed the desire to go to Chechnya to fight as a jihadist.

Pugh has pleaded not guilty to two charges, including attempting to provide material support to a terror organization.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Former Airman Facing Charges: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Pressure Building to Send Troops Back to Iraq

boots on the ground

By Debbie Gregory.

According to recent polls, Americans may be moving on from their war weariness. Public opinion has changed direction, and isn’t the same as it was a year ago when the subject of putting boots on the ground in Iraq raised ire.

In early February, 52% of Americans believed that the U.S. should send combat troops back to Iraq, a recent poll revealed. The troops sent would be part of an international coalition to fight ISIS. Previously, only 48% of those polled were favor of boots on the ground in Iraq. Furthermore, in the last four months, the number of people who were opposed to the idea declined from 36% to 28%.

These polls suggest that the rise of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has raised concerns of international terrorism, while diminishing opposition to quell the advance of the terrorist group by sending troops.

A poll done by NBC News/Marist Poll showed 66% of Americans believe that some ground troops are needed to combat ISIS. But only a small percentage of that 66% agree with sending a large number of forces.

The shift could be due to the fact that a lot of Americans feel that the U.S. and their allies were no longer winning the war on terror.

Public support is leaning in favor of a debate held at Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are considering a bill expanding President Obama’s authority to use military force against ISIS. Another poll shows that a 54 yes to 32 no stands in favor of Americans wanting their Congressmen to vote for the measure.

American forces spent eight-and-a-half years in Iraq, training and fighting alongside of an Iraqi army that now numbers approximately 245,000. Official estimates of ISIS fighters have grown from 9,000 to just approximately 30,000, suggesting the U.S. presence and its bombing campaign has boosted the militants’ recruitment efforts.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Pressure Building to Send Troops Back to Iraq: By Debbie Gregory